A holiday is more than just a date on a calendar- it’s about maintaining traditions that we associate with the purpose or idea of the holiday. The traditions we observe make a particular day different than any other day of the year.
A lot of things make up what Thanksgiving is for me- taking time to reflect on all of the positive things in my life, spending time with my family, maybe even a little football on on the background. But really, the thing that truly differentiates one day from the rest of the year is (can you guess?) the food. There are a lot of things on the Thanksgiving day menu that just don’t make it to the table any other day. The stuffing. The sweet potato casserole with the marshmallows on top. The cranberry sauce.
Thanksgiving with my family has always involved the cranberry sauce in a can, and accordingly, a deep loyalty to those ridges has formed. Frankly, I have nothing against the canned version- you know exactly what you’re signing up for, and it gets the job done.
But cranberry sauce can be so much more. It can be so much brighter from fresh cranberries. It can be complex with notes of cinnamon and orange. It can have real, varied texture from the cranberries and pecans. It can hold its own against all of the other delicious Thanksgiving sides.
This cranberry sauce beats the pants of the canned stuff in every food-based metric. But the canned cranberry sauce is there EVERY year- is it even Thanksgiving without the ridges? So I’m left with a quandary: which one should stay?
This year I dodged the question and served both. Maybe the new tradition is two cranberry sauces? What do you think?
Cinnamon Orange Cranberry Sauce
This cranberry sauce is the perfect blend of sweet and tart, with a great texture added by chopped pecans
- 1 C water
- 1 ½ C granulated sugar
- 1 ½ Tbsp orange juice
- 18 oz fresh cranberries (picked through)
- ½ tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ C chopped pecans
- In a medium saucepan, combine water, sugar and orange juice.
- Stir in cranberries and ginger; bring to boil and simmer until cranberries pop.
- Remove from heat; stir in cinnamon and pecans.
- Allow to cool before serving (sauce can be refrigerated for 1 week).